Garbage contract needs accountability
July 23, 2001
As Meridian City Council members study the possibility of terminating the city's garbage pickup contract with Waste Management Inc., they would do well to consider injecting a core concept into their deliberations:
As it stands now, city council members get to hear the complaints but have little to do with actually getting the complaints resolved. They are, in essence, powerless over enforcement of a contract they wrote and approved powerless, that is, short of terminating the contract and starting over.
Residents have complained for months of pine straw, tree limbs, leaves and other debris piled high and rotting in front of their homes. Fire and police officials have said these piles are hazardous. When a pile sat for more than two weeks in front of city councilman Dr. George Thomas' house, he began to see the problem up close and personal.
The problem is poor service, exacerbated by the tendency of some residents to throw out tree trunks with the limbs and leaves. Waste Management will only pick up limbs a maximum size of four feet long and two inches in diameter. But few homeowners bother to measure and length and diameter of what they're throwing out.
They just want it gone.
Trash pickup is a fundamental, albeit expensive, public service of city government. City residents expect it, indeed, pay extra for it.
Waste Management is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that has handled garbage collections in Meridian for about eight years. The contract was renewed last September for four years, with the city having the option to extend it two additional years.
The relationship between the company and the city has disintegrated now to words like "breach of contract" and "I'm tired of playing these games" and "something needs to be done."
Council members are right something needs to be done, and they are the ones to do it.